The darkness started in November. No, it was before that. But I made the first cut in November. And it took me 4 months to stop. And I really thought that I would be dead before I made it here. Because it hurt to wake up. And to get out of bed. And to go to work.
It hurt to smile. And to talk to people. To spend every second of every day lying.
It felt like my mind was drowning and treading water all the damn time. Never quite reaching the surface.
I didn’t think I would make it here.
It’s one thing to be alive. It’s another to live. I’ve felt joy in the past week. Real joy. Not the plastic smile I’ve worn across my face for the past eight months, crying in whatever private space I could find. But that bubbling feeling in my chest, the one that can’t be contained.
I didn’t even recognize it at first.
And I kept up the motions. Waking up at 5:30am to put in a 12 hour day because it took me twice as long to get everything done. Riding Ubers to the office because I didn’t trust myself behind the wheel. I didn’t know where I would go. Or what I would do. The temptations I had, I could never say out loud.
The only moments with relief were when I drew blood. And for a brief moment, I could feel again. Better yet, I couldn’t feel anything else.
I stopped cutting four months ago. And this week, for the first time, I was happy. It still feels surreal. I’m proud to have made it here. But I still feel like I got lucky, and I don’t know how to reconcile that. Because what if I don’t make it out one day?
Someone today told me “its nice to see you smile again”. I don’t know why it felt so good. But I think I was glad someone said it out loud.
Recovery feels like finally realizing that the sun is behind the clouds and that its been there all along. But it’s not the same thing as seeing the sun.
Recovery is acknowledging that your life is worth it and fighting like hell every second to remember that. Refusing the vicious thoughts and temptations you used to rely on. Resisting the ease of slipping into a dark hole and lying there because it’s easier not to get up.
Recovery is struggling to remember that there is good in every moment even if you can’t see it right now. It’s being grateful for the ten minutes of every day that you have a smile on your face and it’s real.
But that sinking feeling in your chest is still there. Once in awhile it gets a little bit lighter, but you know that it’s there. You have to remember that those dark habits you relied on have consequences. So now before you reach for your razor, you stop, you breathe, count to ten, think of alternatives. You remember that people care. You remember that you should care.
Recovery is knowing that the sun is there, but fighting every second just to catch a glimpse. And every time you lose sight of it, you’re filled with terror.
Forgive yourself. Be kind. Be patient. Someday, every day will be filled with sun.
If we didn’t have memories, it would be so much easier to let go, to live in the moment, to move on with life. But memories are there for a reason. They shape the person that we become. Unfortunately, life is a cycle of ups and downs. You can’t have sunshine without a little rain.
Memories make it hard to be satisfied with yourself. They remind you of that time you were happy. They make you look backwards when you’ve been struggling to move forward, filling your mind with what ifs and dreams of something that could have been. You struggle to recreate rather than innovate.
I’m done looking back. I’m done mourning the past and living in discontent. I’ve learned that I’m never going to see the light if I’m hiding in the dark. Even though sometimes the darkness feels safer. There, disappointment is expected, nothing can hurt more than it already does. The light is a much scarier place, but its rewards are so much greater.
Lately, I have been starting to venture out into the light. And sometimes I’ve been burned by it. I’ve still had days that I wanted to spend crying under my covers and days that I just wanted to give up. But I’ve also been happier than I have been in a while. And every time I feel the urge to crawl back into the dark, I remind myself that there are other options.
I have to mention that this hasn’t been a solo journey. I have to thank those that have stuck with me, held my hand, inspired me with their own resilience, helped me to find the light. Thank you.
A cloud of darkness and fear
fog up a life that could have been
leaving you a shell of yourself
always wondering when the next wave of panic will strike.
Thoughts race and your body shakes
and you hate your mind
for not knowing when to stop.
When fear strikes
your chest is tight
your lungs are on fire
your heart is ready to explode
your head is spinning
your world has gone black.
All that is left is fear.
Fear of the death that seems so near.
When it ends, you are left only with hate
for the mind and the body
that you cannot control
looking for something or someone to blame
but finding nothing except yourself.
And still you search
for that light at the end of the tunnel.
I promise it is there.